Trial begins for Kylr Yust, charged with two Cass County murders

Regional News

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — The trial of Kylr Yust began Monday, charged with murdering two Cass County young women nearly a decade apart.

Attorneys delivered opening statements with Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler saying Yust,  killed both Kara Kopetsky, 17,  and Jessica Runions, 21, with his bare hands, hid their bodies in the woods and confessed to the crimes. 

But his attorney, Sharon Turlington said it’s a long complicated story. She said those confessions were only said in jest or as a way to impress women.  

Kylr Yust entered the Cass County courtroom on a day two Cass County families have been waiting for since the 2007 murder of  Kopetsky and 2016 murder of Runions.

Butler told jurors Kopetsky’s family got a restraining order against Yust  four days before she walked out of her high school never to be seen again. 

 “When Kara tried to end her relationship with Yust because of abuse, Yust said ‘if I can’t have her nobody can,’” Butler said.

But the defense in opening statements pointed to missing phone records that day in 2007. Turlington said Yust went to his grandparents house, visited his aunt and then went to band practice with his death metal band.

Sketches by Baldemar Rivas

The FBI already had Yust on tape confessing to the murder in 2011 when he left a party with Runions nine years after Kopetsky’s death. A mushroom hunter later found Kopetsky’s and Runions’ remains close to each other.

“Yust murdered Jessica with deliberation same as he did Kara before because no one else can have Jessica either,” Butler said painting an alleged  pattern of Yust’s treatment of women as relationships soured.

But that night there are phone records the defense says shows Yust was home in Raymore at the same time Runions’ phone was active in Belton.

“Kylr Yust is innocent this is a long and complicated case that spans more than a decade,” Turlington told jurors. 

She said she’d also present evidence of who else could have committed the murders, Yust’s now deceased half-brother Jessup Carter. 

“There’s not one hair, one drop of blood, one fingerprint in this case connecting Klyr to either of these homicides,” Turlington said. 

Because of COVID-19 and these two murder cases being tried simultaneously some family of each young woman is having to view the proceedings outside of the courtroom. 

Prosecution will present its first evidence and begin calling witnesses Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. 

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